Monday, March 30, 2009

If Your User Were Different...

I find myself sometimes getting into a rut particularly around users. We've met some users, and we've done some research on usage models, so we're not completely in the dark. However, it gets really easy to start making assumptions about the product based on the usage model you think you know.

So every once in a while I find it a useful exercise to challenge my assumptions about the product by changing my assumptions about our users.

Our user is generally an enterprise employee - think big company with thousands of employees. There are two main classes of users: storage admins, end users. End users pretty much just care about having a big storage space in the sky that they access with a network mount that's always there - space and uptime are pretty much it. Storage admins have more needs, mostly around ability to set caps on storage use, ease of seeing who's using what space, etc. Pretty simple, in the end.

But what if we change those assumptions? Let's assume that we're now going to sell to the lone IT guy in a 50-man company. What's different? What about our product is now hard to use? What's easier?

You may never sell to your mythical user. You may never change your product to accommodate this mythical user. The point is merely to shake some assumptions loose. The point is to change your thinking and get you questioning what should really be an assumption and what shouldn't.

What do you do to change your cobwebby assumptions?

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